Well lets just start from the night before and put the rumours to rest. Yes at dinner I did have both red and white wine. Only thing is for the price on the menu I assumed it was a glass, but instead it was a bottle of each. However I did feel fine this morning and I got up at 6am. I even managed a photo of the lit up Mendoza sign in the central plaza.
So today I went on a tour of the Andes. well the road from Mendoza to Santiago at least and I didn’t get to cross the border either much to my disappointment. This was a long day trip of around 12 hours. The border is only 180kms away and the mountain road is quite good, but it takes a bus or truck typically 3-4 hours to make the trip. The road follows the Mendoza river up to the dam which supplies all of Mendoza’s water. This tour had no shortage of stops for photos and this dam was one of them, however I had no idea where the dam wall was!
So back in the bus, the tour guide decided it was a great idea to introduce ourselves and tell everyone where we came from. The first couple were from Barcelona (just like Manuel) and then people started clapping. Seriously coming from Barcelona is not something worth clapping. Then the next people were from the Pampas region of Argentina and claps again. Oh I see now, the Argentinians have a habit of clapping for just about everything that seems relatively normal to me, like landing planes successfully (all three flights have been given a round of applause). So it was my turn “Hi i’m Justin from Australia”. Yes i got applause, but then found out I was the only native english speaking person again.
We stopped again for a food and toilet break and I explained to the driver and guide all about Kangaroos in the best spanish I could muster. The guide did speak english, certainly better than my spanish, but if I spoke too quickly he couldn’t understand me. I explained i have the same issue with the locals 🙂
The trip up the mountain was full of little photo stops, some really didn’t warrant a photo and luckily you won’t see those. The first stop of importance was the Puente de la Picheuta. The path the road follows is the same one the Incas and colonials used to cross the Andes. This bridge is a more modern one the colonials used in the 1800’s.
We continued the climb up the hill to another fairly important stop. The Puente de la Inca is a natural bridge the Incas used. The colonials added the bathhouse next to it when they discovered hot springs. the colouration of the rosk in the photo is due to Sulfur deposits from the water. The old railway was still intact here. Apparently there are plans to ressurect the railway, but it seems in parts it will need a lot of work. from what I can see though, this train trip would soon be rated as one of the most scenic in the world.
The final stop (of importance) in the day was at the Parque Provincial Aconcagua. This park is where the worlds highest mountain outside of Asia is. Aconcagua is a fairly tall 6962 metres, but doesn’t crack the top 100 mountains list! Its apparently not the most difficult climb for an experienced climber, but certainly no Kosciuszko which is the only one i’ve climbed. Actually to put the Andes in perspective, the base of the park is 2800m tall, well over 500m higher than Kosciuszko.
Lunch was an interesting experience to say the least. i was trying to pick up as much spanish as I could, but my brain pretty much heard this:
blah, blah, blah, 3000, blah, blah, blah, blah, university, blah, blah, blah, etc.
I picked up words and numbers, but it was difficult to gain knowledge of the perspective and more detail on what they were talking about. I also worked out that they love saying “claro”. Which is pretty much just saying “clear”.
So my spanish phrase of the day is this. Cuando en una conversación en español, acaba de decir “claro” mucho. So when in a spanish conversation just say “claro” alot 🙂 That should get you by and if that fails, throw in a few Si’s, just to mix it up.
Tomorrow is wine appreciation day. Should make for interesting reading if i do my blog right after tasting a few wines!